I love watching professionals at work...Bill Frisell at SF Jazz

Michael Hunter

Gold Supporting Member
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1,906
In San Francisco for business with an evening to kill last night, and whaddya know - Bill Frisell's starting the first night of a residency at Miner Auditorium with his Bug Sur quintet (Rudy Royston on drums, Jenny Scheinman on violin, Eyvind Kang on viola, and Hank Roberts on cello). Hadn't seen Bill play in a few years, so I went downtown to enjoy the show.

Seeing as it's Bill, it should go without saying that the performance was beautiful and mesmerizing - I've always loved his string-based groups as they seem to be a great vehicle for featuring his compositional prowess. About 2/3 of the way into the show, the power blows mid-tune. Bill has his usual electric rig, so he's dead in the water. (Pretty sure the acoustic instruments had some amplification as well, despite it being a pretty intimate space.) The venue management handled it as well as could be expected - audience is told to take a few minutes recess to use the facilities, refresh their drinks, etc. while they sort out the problem.

After a few minutes, it becomes clear that the problem isn't at the venue - power's out on the whole block, and the building's running on generator power. Bill and crew take the stage again, Bill now armed with a sunburst dreadnaught (sorry, didn't catch what it was!), and it's announced that they'll finish their set sans any amplification. Even in a small space like this, an unamplified acoustic is only going to carry so far, and then there's those bowed strings and drums to contend with, but damned if the ensemble didn't take it to the next level entirely by performing with just exquisite balance and gracefulness. (I was pretty far from the stage, too.) It's been a while since I've experienced an audience that engaged and on the edge of their seats, particularly at performance volumes that low. Bill & co. managed to turn what had been a great show into a magical one, and handle an unfortunate situation with the sort of professionalism that's pretty damn rare in the diva age.

That, folks, is how it's done.
 

cbpickin

Tweed Supporting Member
Gold Supporting Member
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7,064
Frisell is amazing! I am not surprised to hear he did the acoustic set; he always seems like it is such a joy for him to play.


I was at a Lyle Lovett outdoor concert a few years ago, and he and his whole band finished the show when the venue (a high-end winery concert venue) cut their power at 10 due to curfew. They were total pros also. My wife shot the video and you can hear the crowd get upset at first when the power goes off.

 

Michael Hunter

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,906
Frisell is amazing! I am not surprised to hear he did the acoustic set; he always seems like it is such a joy for him to play.
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That's the thing - while I'm sure it was frustrating for the musicians on stage, there was no indication of anything but joy in the music being performed. Truly a special performance.
 




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